Last year, as a part of the analysis of the performance of the Hawaii State Legislature’s 76 elected officials, Hawaii Reporter published the attendance records of all legislators during the 2002 60-day legislative session — information provided by the clerk’s office in each House.
This was the first time any news publication had published the attendance records of legislators, according to legislators in office for many years who told Hawaii Reporter attendance records have not been publicized.
The 2002 look at attendance did produce some surprising results. Even though it was an election year, Hawaii Reporter learned that in 2002 some of the legislators missed or were tardy for much of the session. The 2002 two worst offenders in the House being then Republican Rep. Bob McDermott who missed 23 of the 60-day session and Democrat Rep. K Mark Takai who missed 22 days. In the Senate in 2002, Sen. Ron Menor had the worst by far attendance in the Senate, missing 25 percent of the session.
See the full story: “Legislative Attendance Records Bring Surprising Results”
Some of the legislators who read Hawaii Reporter’s June 2002 story responded with harsh criticism. Some in the House said they were not absent all the days they were marked so, rather they were only tardy and counted as absent because of the way the roll call is handled.
Those in the Senate complained of the opposite problem — many of the Senators are present for roll call and then leave soon after, so they are unfairly marked present, yet do not stay to vote.
Despite these complaints, Hawaii Reporter continues to report on an annual basis the attendance records of the House and Senate members as documented in public record, acknowledging the obvious flaws and reported inequities in the system.
That is because, while the Legislature is part-time, and many legislators have other full-time jobs, family responsibilities, medical conditions or other factors such as military duty that may prevent them from attending every day, most voters would say it is important to be present as often as possible. If they don’t show up to vote, to listen to testimony in hearings, or meet with constituents, it is likely they will not be as effective as they otherwise would be if they were present.
So with that in mind, here is a look at the attendance records in the House and Senate, provided by the House and Senate Clerks offices respectively:
”Hawaii State House of Representatives:”
Just 7 of the 51 House members had perfect attendance, though many others were reportedly absent just one or two days. The House keeps closer track of its members, not only documenting if they do or do not attend the full meeting of the day called the session, but also tracked if the House members’ attend through the rest of the official days and whether they were excused.
State Reps. Michael Kahikina, D-Waianae, Guy Ontai, R-Mililani, and Dwight Takamine, D-Hilo, had the worst attendance records in the House, missing 14 of the daily sessions (or at the very least were not present for roll call and therefore not recorded — at worst, they missed all 14 days). Kahikina also missed 9 whole days of the session, while Ontai only missed one whole day and Takamine missed 6 whole days.
As recorded in public record, the 15 worst absentee records in the House from worst to first are:
*1. Rep. Michael Kahikina, D-Waianae, missed 14 sessions, 9 full days
*2. Rep. Dwight Takamine, D-Hilo, missed 14 sessions, 6 full days
*3. Rep. Guy Ontai, R-Mililani, missed 14 sessions, 1 full day
*4. Rep. David Pendleton, R-Kailua, missed 12 sessions, 7 full days**
*5. Rep. Sol Kahoohalahala, D-Lanai, missed 10 sessions, 6 full days
*6. Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-Wahiawa, missed 10 sessions, 1 full day
*7. Rep. Tulsi Tamayo Gabbard, D-Waianae, missed 9 sessions, 9 days
*8. Rep. K. Mark Takai, D-Pearl City, missed 9 sessions, 7 full days
*9. Rep. Kika Bukoski, R-Maui, missed 8 sessions, 5 full days
*10. Rep. Robert Herkes, D-Big Island, missed 7 sessions, 6 full days
*11. Rep. Bud Stonebraker, R-Hawaii Kai, missed 7 sessions, 5 days
*12. Rep. Ezra Kanoho, D-Kauai, missed 7 sessions, 3 full days
*13. Rep. Brian Blundell, R-Maui, missed 5 sessions, 4 full days
*14. Rep. Hermina Morita, D-Kauai, missed 5 sessions, 3 full days
*15. Rep. Jerry Chang, D-Hilo, missed 5 sessions, 3 full days
*16. Rep. Ken Ito, D-Kaneohe, missed 5 sessions and no full days
”’Note:** Rep. Pendleton contacted Hawaii Reporter during the session to say he’d miss some days of the session due to an immediate family member being in critical care.”’
All remaining members of the House missed four or fewer sessions and days.
”Perfect attendance went to:” Reps. Bertha Kawakami, D-Kauai; Marilyn Lee, D-Mililani; Bertha Leong, R-Aina Haina; Mike Magaoay, D-North Shore; Mark Moses, R-Kapolei; Bob Nakasone, D-Maui; and Scott Saiki, D-McCully.
”Near perfect attendance was held by:” Reps. Felipe Abinsay, D-Kalihi; Dennis Arakaki, D-Kalihi; Kirk Caldwell, D-Manoa; Corinne Ching, R-Nuuanu; Galen Fox, R-Waikiki, Rep. Helene Hale, D-Puna; Jon Riki Karumatsu, D-Waipahu; Brian Shatz, D-Tantalus; Glen Wakai, D-Moanalua Valley.
”Hawaii State Senate”
Just 6 of the 25 Senate members had perfect attendance during the 2003 Legislative session, though overall Senators had better attendance records than the House legislators did.
The Senate does not keep as detailed of records as it House counterparts, rather the Senate simply records whether Senators show up at any time during the daily session and does not mark whether or not members miss the full day or just the session.
The worst attendance in the Senate was by Sens. Les Ihara, D-Kaimuki, who missed 12 sessions, Paul Whalen, R-Big Island, who missed 9 sessions, and Norman Sakamoto, D-Moanalua, who missed 7 days.
As recorded in public record, the worst absentee records in the Senate, from worst to first, are:
*1. Sen. Les Ihara, D-Kaimuki, missed 12 sessions**
*2. Sen. Paul Whalen, D-Big Island, missed 9 sessions
*3. Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-Moanalua, missed 7 sessions
”’Note: **Sen. Ihara contacted Hawaii Reporter during the session because he fell ill causing him to miss a number of days.”’
All remaining senators missed four or fewer days.
”Perfect attendance records were held by:” Sens. Melodie Aduja, D-Kahaluu; Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Nuuanu; Willie Espero, D-Ewa; Gary Hooser, D-Kauai; Lorraine Inouye, D-Big Island; Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai.
”Near perfect attendance”, with Senators missing just one session, include: Sens. Brian Taniguchi, D-Manoa; Robert Bunda, D-North Shore, Fred Hemmings, R-Kailua; Roz Baker, D-Maui.
”’Reach Malia Zimmerman, president and editor of Hawaii Reporter, at:”’ mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com